Weird and Wonderful Warbler

Yesterday I posted some “photo clips” from video footage that I took of a unique and interesting warbler that we found on one of my local bird walks at Point Reyes, Marin, California on November 12th 2014. Here is the complete video. Check it out and please feel free to comment on it if you have any ideas or thoughts as to what it might be.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all!

One of the truly wonderful aspects of birding and focusing in on nature is the experience you have when you stumble across something truly unique. That very thing happened yesterday. I had small birding group out for a days birding at the migrant hot spots of outer Point Reyes. Most folks might consider fall migration over by the end of October but for me, November is the truly exciting time. Yes, the diversity and numbers are not what they would be on a “hot days birding” in late September or early October, but the quality does seem to go up. When I say quality, this is what I’m talking about. Truly lost and species and individuals that took time to get here, show up later, like November.

Well, this bird put us back on our heels when we located it at a great and somewhat sheltered migrant trap referred to as The Fish Docks. I was accompanied by Ron Mallory and Karen Hooper. Ron first spotted the bird but it was a good half hour before we were able to get better looks, photos and video of the bird. It moved around in Monterey Cypress with two Townsend’s Warblers. The first photo is one that Ron took with his cell phone through his scope.

Mystery Warbler

On first impressions, the bird seems to be either a Townsend’s Warbler that lacks most of its yellow, or a Black-throated Gray Warbler that has an over abundance of yellow. Could it be a hybrid between the two?

Mystery Warbler video pic

Here are several photos that were actually taken of my computer monitor when I paused the video that I had taken. Since the bird has a black throat, it is an adult male. However, an adult male Townsend’s should have an all black crown and cheeks as well as a green back.

Mystery Warbler video pic

This shot makes one think about the possibility of an eastern Black-throated Green Warbler, however they don’t show a  gray face or back and DO show yellow at the base of the flanks where the tail joins the “hip”.

Mystery Warbler video pic

It is my feeling that this is an aberrant Townsend’s Warbler that is lacking much of the yellow in its plumage. The bird otherwise is patterned and “built” like a Townsend’s rather than some sort of hybrid.

Mystery Warbler video pic   So please stay tuned as I will try to get the video of this VERY COOL bird on my blog in the next day or two.

Keith.

Marin County Bird Walks with Keith Hansen

Marin View

Immerse yourself in the incredible diversity of habitats that exist within the borders of Marin County. Join me on my Bird Walk forays to seek out and behold the avian magic that adorns this rich and varied landscape. Below is the schedule for some up coming trips. I hope you can come along!

FALL & WINTER 2014

Our first few Bird Walks have been a blast and have found us enjoying a wide array of bird life in West Marin. Whether it was a Peregrine Falcon stooping on and catching a California Gull over the Olema Valley and tumbling to the ground with it, or the Tropical Kingbird catching wasps at Agate Beach or the hybrid Hermit X Townsend’s Warbler at Five Brooks Pond, this unique county always seems to inspire and thrill the birder naturalist.

Half Day Walks end around 12:30 to 1:00 PM

Full Day Walks end around 4:00 PM

Wed. Nov. 12th. Point Reyes Peninsula. Full Day $40.00 Bring Lunch

Meet: 7:00 AM @ the Bovine Bakery, Point Reyes Station.

We will proceed to the outer point where we will search the various farms and tree patches looking for late fall migrants and winter birds.

  

Sat. Nov. 15th. Bolinas. 1/2 Day $25.00

Meet: 7:30 @ The Coast Café, Bolinas.

We will search the Alder and Willow forest of Pine Gulch Creek as well as scoping for seabirds from Agate Beach.

Wed. Nov 26th. Stafford Lake, Rush Creek and Las Gallinas Ponds. Full Day $40.00 Bring Lunch

Meet: 7:30 @ Entrance to Stafford Lake, (3 miles west of Novato on Novato Blvd.)

We will scan the lake for winter waterfowl and bird the surrounding environs for interesting songbirds. Heading east we will partake in the riches of Rush Creek’s mudflats and the Las Gallinas Water Treatment Ponds.

 

Sat. Nov. 29th. Five Brooks and Bear Valley. ½ Day $25.00

Meet: 7:30 @ Five Brooks Parking lot, located 3 miles south of Olema on Hwy. 1

We will bird the Five Brooks pond area for the start of the stay with songbirds. Next, it’s to Bear Valley Headquarters and Olema Marsh for a change of birds and habitats.

 

Wed. Dec.10th. Stinson Beach and Bolinas, 100 Species in a Day!

Full Day, $40.00 Bring a lunch.

Meet: 7:30 AM @ The Stinson Beach Post Office.

This will be winter round up with an attempt to see 100 species in a day. Starting in Stinson Beach for sea watching and species along the beach we will continue to Stinson Gulch, the Bolinas Lagoon and with time permitting, Pine Gulch Creek or Agate Beach.

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While we will sometimes be walking on uneven terrain, most walks are quite easy and at a comfortable pace. As is always the case, dress appropriately for changing weather especially if rain is in the forecast. Wear proper footwear. If a walk is canceled due to rain, I will make every effort to contact you ahead of time, otherwise the walk goes. Bring liquids, munchies, sunscreen, a hat, cameras, lens cloth, and of course, binoculars. If you wish to bring a scope, feel free. I will always have mine.

 

Trips are typically limited to 12 participants.

 

PLEASE reserve your spot by calling or emailing KEITH HANSEN using the form below: When you do, leave me your contact info, phone or email. To pay, you may do so with a check (made out to Keith Hansen), cash or credit card.

Keith Hansen

415 868 0402

Pink-sided Junco @ the Wildlife Gallery.

A LIFE BIRD is any species, (or in this, case subspecies) that you have not seen in your life. Well, I got one!

I have have been looking for a Pink-sided Junco my entire life and perhaps I have even seen one. Goddess knows that I have tried to tease one out from the many thousands of “Oregon” type juncos that I have enjoyed lo these decades. Much caution should be used when putting the name “Pink-sided Junco” on a bird one might encounter here in coastal Northern California. Many Oregon Juncos show markings that reflect the Pink-sided. Some can be bluish headed, can have dark lores and be quite pinkish on the flanks.

This bird was found originally on Feb. 18th 2013 by Steve Howell at the Wildlife Gallery as it came into the seed. Steve saw the bird only very briefly and without the aid of binoculars. He let me know that he had seen a provocative bird so I was on the look out. The next day I was “visually slammed” when this BLUISH headed, blackish lored and very pink sided Junco dropped into to patio for two or three seconds. It instantly flushed and headed into the large willow that forms the backdrop for the patio. I was able to get some very poor footage of the bird and then suddenly, it was gone! I did not see the bird until the next day. I was VERY eager to see this bird again. Steve came by with camera and thankfully the bird came in and we were both able to photograph it. This bird is distinct and different from anything I have ever seen. It is very well marked.

Photo by Steve Howell.  Feb.17th 2013

Photo by Steve Howell. Feb.20th 2013

Description: Head, nape and breast, even colored glossy gray-blue, contrasting with the back and flanks. The extent of the gray-blue hood of this bird seems strikingly more expansive than the black hood of the Oregon Junco. Lores contrastingly blackish. Some very little blackish smudging on the chin. Eye dark. Bill light pink. Back brown with no hint of rust or warmth. Shows faint (4 or 5) slightly darker streaks on the back. Flanks pinkish, fully colored and extensive in area. The extent of the flank color was so expansive that it nearly met in the center and continues to the very rear end of the flanks. There is however a thin white strip up the middle of the belly. Rump, gray-blue. Tail, central feathers blackish with gray-blue edges, outer tail feathers, largely white. When viewed from the side, the only white showing on the bird are its striking under tail coverts and edge of the closed tail. The tertials are dark centered and are edged thinly in buff. The lesser wing coverts are gray-blue. The greater wing coverts are dark centered and edged thinly with brown on the inner feathers. The outer ones are edged with gray-blue. Legs, dusky pinkish.   The bird has not been seen next to any other Juncos for direct size comparison.

Photo by Steve Howell, Feb. 19th 2013

Photo by Steve Howell, Feb. 20th 2013

While I hope the Pink-sided Junco reappears, it was last seen at the gallery on Feb. 23rd 2013.

          How’s this for an interesting twist.

 PRBO biologists Khara Strum and Ryan Di Gaudio came by the gallery to look for the bird but were unsuccessful. However, the next day Khara took these photos at their feeder and sent them to me!!! Whether this is the same bird looking slightly different because of lighting, camera… I’m not sure, but this bird also appears to be a (or the) Pink-sided Junco!!!

Photographed by Khara Feb. 25th 2013, (About 1/4 mile from The Wildlife Gallery)

Photographed by Khara Feb. 25th 2013, (About 1/4 mile from The Wildlife Gallery)

Pink-sided Junco, Khara, Feb. 25th 2013

Pink-sided Junco, Khara, Feb. 25th 2013

Keith’s new Web Site with Sierra Prints

Small Owls of the Sierra Nevada

Welcome back to my Blog.

I am very excited!

I am sitting in my gallery and enjoying the sound of happily feeding sparrows out in the patio & looking forward to getting back to my blog.

SO much has been happening since I last posted. I have recently finished a 14 year project creating numerous watercolor images for a book entitled, “Birds of the Sierra Nevada, Their Natural History, Status & Distribution”. This richly worded and informative resource was written by Edward Beedy, Ed Pandolfino & was illustrated by Keith Hansen. I have completed the last of 70 plates, depicting the various species that inhabit that grand mountain range. I will be posting MUCH more about the book and its release, very soon.

I’m happy to announce the release of my New Web Site! You can dive into some of my work by going to the link below.

www.keithhansen.com

BIRDS OF THE SIERRA NEVADA

LIMITED EDITION PRINTS

Limited Edition Prints of each of the 70 plates are now available. Please find your way into the site where you will, for the first time, be able to see each of the 70 plates that depict the 320 species that I have had the pleasure of getting to know in a very deep and personal way. While this process has been lengthy, it has given me a great insight & understanding into a unique region and its stunning bird life.

The art or “plates” are laid out in the order that they were created with the “Loon, Cormorant, Pelican” plate being the first one that I started, back in 1998. I chose this order to illustrate the plates, because it seemed logical to create them in “Taxonomic Order“. To see the images enlarged,  click on the image several times to increase their size. Typically I portray from 3 to 6 species per plate, showing the plumage & how it varies depending on the sex, age, race or season. Plates took an average of two months to complete & are largely watercolor, graphite, colored pencil & tiny applications of acrylic.

An important tool that I used throughout this process has been a video camera. Over the years I have taken footage of over 800 species of birds from North America, Mexico & Central America. This footage enables me to have the positions & visual information needed for me to capture their special, wonderful & unique look.

Wrens of the Sierra Nevada

Wrens of the Sierra Nevada

THE PRINTS

The Limited Edition Run is 100 prints for each of the 70 bird plates.

These Geclee Prints are produced on heavy 100% archival stock with deckled edges & are printed at 100%, the size of the original. The Limited Edition Prints measure, 10 1/2  x  17 inches.They are shipped flat and well fortified.

Limited Edition Print Price $125.00

Prints can be ordered & purchased on the Web Site or by calling The Wildlife Gallery at 415 868 0402
or Email Keith at  birdhansen(at)mac(dot)com    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Please allow 3 weeks for delivery.

Please stay tuned into this blog and visit the web site as many new products and art pieces will be added.

Enjoy,

Keith Hansen


Bolinas Lagoon Tsunami

On Friday the 11th, Bolinas Lagoon was hit with several surges created from the devastating earthquake that hit Japan. I shot this video footage at about 10:15 AM when at least 4 events took place here. In what typically takes several hours, it was incredible to see the lagoon fill from an OUTGOING low tide to FULL in a little over two minutes. Make sure that when you view this footage that you have the volume up so that you can hear the full power of the surge.

RAPID FIRE ADDITIONS!

What can I say, I’ve been BUSY, but simply HAVE to get some new birds on my carbon free bird list. Here goes.

WAAAAAAY back on October 20th I saw a flock, wait a sec! Is three considered a flock? Well when it comes to Palm Warblers, perhaps. I was biking around the Sewage Ponds when I had a “flock-let” of 3 of these great birds suddenly surround me flitting up and onto Coyote Bush all the while doing their classic tail pumping action. # 230

Now this bird may not seem like such a rare addition to my list but the “way” that I added it might make some people say “Hey, hold on a second”! On October 22nd, Patricia and I were doing our evening beach walk when I saw one of the local beach dogs writhing in complete pleasure on the carcass of some pathetic remains of some poor creature. Shooing the dog off the sandier pastures I bent down and picked up the sad remains of departed glory. The very dead Northern Fulmar, # 231, was just the first of what has turned out to be a very large die off of that species this winter. Why do I count a dead bird on my Carbon Free Big Year list? Well, because country, state and county “bird list keepers” do the same. If the creature arrived naturally to that location in a way that was not “helped” by humans, (as mentioned, this was part of a large die off), then I will put it on my list as well. I have a mammal or two that I have on this years list that were dead.

The next two birds were both added on November 6th and were seen within 20 minutes of each other! We had had a great storm with very high tides the day before. I got out early to hit Pine Gulch hoping for some poor storm swept bird to be forced out of their habitat in the flooded march that borders the Bolinas Lagoon. As I passed the western edge of the large Alder forest I was just about bolled over as high, thin, piercing sound seemingly split the air. WHAM, right over my head a Red-throated Pipit poured out it high frequency “SPEEEEEEeeeeeeee” call. #232.  At my age that type of sound can go unheard at any distance but this was really quite surprising, not only because of the extreme rarity of the species, (from Siberia) but the fact that I was able to hear it so well. I watched the bird, that was perhaps 30 feet off the deck. as it flew way out over the flooded lagoon. At the point when the bird was almost lost from sight, it dropped into the grass that was immersed in about 3 feet of salt water. Well, I was already wet and thought “what the heck”. Before long I had moved to where the bird had plunged and in a very real way I had plunged in as well. Up to, almost my chest, found me slogging around in the high tide, but to no avail. The bird had slipped my grasp.

I headed back to “dry” ground. Just as I had emerged from the fish habitat, I heard a very unusual call and looked up once again to see a new year bird as it passed overhead! Calling only twice and moving at an impressive speed a Lapland Longspur cranked against the wind like a hot knife through… I had only ever seen one of these super gifts from the north anywhere around the Bolinas Lagoon area. #233. I locked onto the bird with my bins and never broke THAT bond for as long as the bird was in view. Well I had it in view for perhaps two minutes which doesn’t sound like much time but that meant that the bird flew in a great circle and move north west and back over the Pine Gulch delta, finally turning into a glittering speck that disappeared into the rain and mist. I was elated!

The next day when everything had settled down and peace befell the land, I headed back to Pine Gulch where I was thrilled to find, another Palm Warbler working the edge of the organic farm field. Bringing my binoculars to bare I savored this little fella as it snatched up tiny winged tidbits. As sometime will happen, a bird popped into my field of view. As almost never happens, this one was even rarer than the “rare” bird that I was already looking at. Imagine my warm smile when this cute Clay-colored Sparrow presented itself. #234. This odd couple hung out together for about 10 minutes affording me much pleasure.

Now I am nearly caught up. Last but not least. A woman stopped into the gallery yesterday and mentioned to me that she had seen “some type of hawk” come out of a burrow near Commonwheal. Well that hawk could be only one thing and that is why I blasted out there today. As I approached the great pile of telephone poles that were discarded long ago by the military, up jumped #235 a Burrowing Owl. This spot has been the one and only reliable place to see this bird in west Marin and while I haven’t heard about, or seen on there for a couple of years, it IS the Burrowing Owl hang out.